In the Fall, I posted about taking a Laura Ingalls Wilder course and rereading some of her books. At that time, the class covered the first four books in the Little House series. This Spring, I took the second half of the Laura Ingalls Wilder class and we read the last five books in the series. These books show a more mature Laura and the reader gets to see her get her first job, get married and have a child. I really enjoyed rereading all of them but there were a few that stood out more than others.
Little Town on the Prairie has always been one of my favorites in the series and it still is. I love the descriptions of life in DeSmet and the creation of Mary's college clothes. It's such a light-hearted read after the seriousness of The Long Winter and for once Pa and Ma aren't pinching pennies and struggling to make ends meet. I kind of feel like These Happy Golden Years and Little Town on the Prairie could be one long book because they are very similar. We really get to see Almanzo in These Happy Golden Years and I never get tired of reading about how he drove so far top the Brewster School in his sleigh to bring Laura home on the weekends.
Reading The Long Winter as an adult was such an eye-opening experience. When I was reading these as a child, I knew times were tough during that winter but as an adult I could see that they were freezing and starving to death. I remember thinking how ingenious it was that they ground wheat in the coffee grinder but as an adult I could see the desperation in that act. It's still one of the best books in the series (in my mind) but it was so different to read it as an adult.
The First Four Years is the only book in the series that I haven't read a bunch of times. I believe this is only my second time reading it and it's definitely my least favorite of the series. I know it wasn't finished and that it was found among Wilder's papers and just published as is but I just don't love it. It's very depressing and less idealistic than any of the previous books and I'm not sure that it paints Almanzo in the best light. Reading this book kind of felt like watching a train wreck; there was just one disaster after the other and so many bad financial decisions made by Almanzo (bless his heart). As an adult, I just wanted to shake him and tell him to think before he acts.
Despite the fact that I did not enjoy The First Four Years, overall I had a great time re-reading these books. I look forward to reading them with Julia when she's older.